Rave legends Aquasky seem to have a strange fascination with numbers, describing the number 7 as their lucky number (hence the 777 record label) and releasing the album on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year. Not to mention they have been in the game 16 years reflected by the 16 tracks on what is ironically the 7th album they have released. If your mind isn't officially blown by this matrix meets 'The Mothman Prophecies' esque calendar manipulation then there isn't much else to say. With the moons aligning in a fashion that point to it being a big year for the inventors of bassline breaks, the album acts as an amalgamation of sorts, featuring an all-star cast of notorious artists old and new from members of Scratch Perverts to Cutline. The question being raised therefore would be whether 'Raise The Devil' rises to what in terms of Aquasky's career is a patently monumental occasion.
Right off the bat it's fairly evident that the troublesome trio have left all conventions of genre restriction at the door in approaching the production of a full EP. The first track 'Taken Over Me' (one of the few solo outings present in the tracklist) harkens back to the breaks sound of past decade; however incorporating elements of the dubstep/bass sound that over the past few years has redefined the way producers approach their work.
'And The Beat Goes' featuring Pyramid and Roisin Brophy is perhaps most indicative of how much things have changed since the last albums offerring. Since then the breaks scene has fallen to pieces pinned down by its own generic trappings and inherent generalisations that have left the public at large uninterested as a whole. The track shows both Aquasky and Pyramid finding a new sound carved out from the road paved by the likes of Rack 'N Ruin: essentially formulating a new sound that takes the framework of 90s rave music only to fill in the gaps with a novel combination of raucous bass.
Much like an Aquasky set, the album fails to sit still, switching up genres faster than a DJ with a bad case of ADD; yet the formulation works perfectly as one track bleeds into the other. The altercations instead of stuttering the album as a whole provide a refreshing sense of variety rarely found in many LP's these days. 'Cold Crush' featuring Bex Riley is a particularly great example of this, utilising a rowdy drumstep melody totally separate from what is predominantly an 140BPM outing. All this following on from 'Phantom' featuring the excellent Engine Earz Experiment who guest on one of the best tracks of the album, sounding like a curious mash-up of Plan B, the London Philharmonic and Flux Pavillion. Truly a testament once again to the album excellently drawing on all influences and sounds whilst firing on all cylinders like there is no tomorrow.
It's not a perfect venture however, although it is pretty bloody close, regrettably it is actually better to hear the band exorcise their drum and bass and acid house origins, as opposed to their breaks roots. Just to clarify we are referring to modern breaks here, tracks like 'Superbad' featuring The Ragga Twins and Mr. Thing are an excellent hark back to the golden age, whilst 'Girls, Girls, Girls' featuring Daddy Freddy is a little bit of a misstep, pushing a rather garish sound that hasn't really been missed.
That is literally the only fault that is concievable to pick out from what is otherwise an excellently concieved album that succeeds in the difficult task of looking back retrospectively whilst at the same time pushing things indefinetly forward. The album is a testament to Aquasky's long career in the industry and features a nostalgic crew of talent rarely seen working together, but it all works perfectly ending up sounding like one big old party in your iPod.